Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Guess No One Found Him A Job....

Latest News Flash: Mitch is calling on City Council to order "metal detectors" for all the school doors and "Tazer guns" for all the teachers...
Please, please, please... find something else for this guy to do as I suspect he's driving the school board crazy and as I said in a previous post
we need to find something to keep him busy.... I'd almost do a deal with the Devil if someone could talk some sense into Mitch... I might even switch over to the Leafs... OK, maybe I wouldn't go that far but I could warm up to Stephen Harper and give him a kiss.... quick Mitch call the cops I just seen a kid walking through my backyard heading to the school....
Councillor seeks meeting about police presence at city high schools
The Guardian
Coun. Mitchell Tweel is hoping to set up a meeting with the provincial government on establishing a full-time police presence at the city's two major high schools. Tweel said if he gets his way there would be a full-time officer stationed at Colonel Gray and Charlottetown Rural. His efforts spawn from concerns he's getting from his own residents in Ward 4 who live around Colonel Gray High School. A number of residents who live in a seniors building across the street from the school went so far as to sign a petition asking Tweel to act on the problem. The petition states students are congregating in the building's driveway during school hours, students won't move out of the way of traffic and drivers are forced out on to Spring Park Road without clear visibility of oncoming traffic. It also indicates that cars picking up students either park in the driveway or block the driveway without concern of the tenants, that the 30 km/h speed limit on Spring Park Road is not being enforced by police and is becoming a big concern for safety and that some tenants and visitors feel threatened by students and aren't comfortable in leaving or arriving back at the apartment building. Tweel said he's already met with the principal of Colonel Gray and the Eastern School District and is working on scheduling a meeting with Education Minister Gerard Greenan, who is also the attorney general, area MLA Doug Currie, along with principals at the Rural and Gray and the Eastern School District. The goal will be to see if there is any way the province can help pay to put a police officer in the two city high schools, or one who would be responsible for both. "The idea is that the officer would work inside the school, in his or her own office, work with the principal and faculty and get to know the students,' Tweel said. "We're at a critical time when it comes to safety and security issues.' Tweel said it's not unusual to have a full-time police presence in schools. It's done throughout the United States and full-time officers are also stationed at high schools in Moncton and Fredericton in New Brunswick.

How about "Big Fluffy Flop".....

I get a charge out of these Tourism guys.... "Ferguson said the province plans to milk the upcoming television coverage for all it is worth" .... when in fact it's probably the other way around as its Island taxpayers that are getting milked here... why is our government still in the Golf business... didn't the Premier say Sell, Sell, Sell... Valarie, how about some of those free green fees for Christmas....
Reality golf show filmed on P.E.I. should be on before first teeoff in 2009
The Guardian
A reality show viewed by millions of American golfers will air in time to help draw visitors to play on P.E.I. in 2009, says an Island tourism official. Robert Ferguson, acting director of marketing with Tourism P.E.I., said he now knows when the U.S.-based Golf Channel plans to air its popular Big Break series that was filmed on the Mill River Golf Course earlier this year. He can’t reveal the date now, but he assures that the program will run at an advantageous time to promote P.E.I. as a golf destination next season. “It will be a very good time in terms of generating exposure for the province,’’ he said. “It will impact visitation in 2009.’’ The provincial government has driven $800,000 into a two-year partnership agreement with The Golf Channel, a television network that reaches approximately 80 million homes in the U.S. and Canada and 30 million internationally. That agreement saw the specialty channel’s most popular original program, Big Break, filmed here this past summer. Ferguson said the province plans to milk the upcoming television coverage for all it is worth. “The return in terms of exposure and the numbers, it’s incredible,’’ he said. “It’s extremely big.’’ The golf industry could use a shot in the arm after seeing play drop by about 10 per cent this year, a decrease largely attributed to heavy rainfall, including a steady deluge that saw August become the wettest month on record in P.E.I. Barry MacLeod, chief operating officer for Golf P.E.I., told The Guardian earlier this year that the province has been holding its own for volume of golf. He said the number of rounds have remained steady over the past three years at around 362,000 on the 18-member courses that belong to the marketing group Golf P.E.I. In Big Break, golfers vie for a shot to play on a professional golf tour. Prince Edward Island is the first Canadian destination to be the host site for the reality series.

Maybe A "Welcome Centre"....

Gee... it must have been some show at the.. "Welcome To Charlottetown Meeting"... the poor guy probably doesn't know what hit him... Freddie waxing elegant about our Port being a possible "military" need... can't you just imagine a few of those Councillors with a U-boat protecting all the brownstones... I couldn't make the meeting but it appears the usual suspects were in full force against anything... maybe someone might have given the developer some constructive criticism and suggested maybe one building and some tweaking or changes in the design but it seems they just wanted to run him out of Town.... the sad thing is that I was out to dinner last night at the Merchantman Pub and a number of the naysayers were celebrating their victory... it kind of makes me want to develop something BIG down there like a Welcome Training Centre ...
Developer presents details of waterfront condominium plan
The Guardian
A developer told Charlottetown residents to get with the times during a public meeting Wednesday. “Things do change, things do not stay the way they are,” said Paul Madden of Newfoundland, owner of Patrick Street Holdings, which created Spa at the Monastery and Suites in St. John’s, Nfld. He wants to build a four-storey, 85,000-square-foot, double building development at the foot of Prince Street in the now vacant lot between Founders Hall and the Charlottetown waterfront. Architect Bill Chandler presented the details, saying the building would sit on 30- to 40-foot-deep concrete pilings embedded in the bedrock below the reclaimed land that makes up that part of the waterfront. The site is already pre-approved for development. Any developer can proceed without a public meeting to construct a three-storey, 36,000- square-foot, three-floor condominium development there. Because Madden’s proposal exceeds those pre-approved specifications, Charlottetown City Council must grant approval. It held a public meeting Wednesday to gather citizen opinion. Fred Hyndman was the first of the public to speak, saying he opposes the development because Charlottetown is the only official deep-water port on the Northumberland Strait. Hyndman said the land needs to keep its designation as industrial because it might be needed in the future for natural gas exploration, a roll-on roll-off shipping development or a military need. “That is the only site in the province, the only place in the Northumberland Strait that qualifies as a deep-water site,” he said. Condominiums can be built on Dorchester Street but a container ship cannot dock on Dorchester Street, said Hyndman. Randy Campbell said the land should remain public. He said any potential tenants would likely settle in other parts of Charlottetown so denying the project would not turn them away. “Please don’t sell our waterfront,” Campbell said to the council arrayed in a line of tables at the front of the room. John MacIntyre said he lives on Hillsborough Street and he doesn’t see much public use of the land at this moment. “To me, there is a lot that commends this project,” said MacIntyre. Malcolm Lodge is opposed to the project, saying it will overwhelm Founders Hall, which carries millions of dollars of taxpayer investment. Lodge had alternative suggestions for the site, like a potential home for a provincial museum, or a recreation park with climbing walls and diving training, delis and pubs. Lodge said there is plenty of vacant or derelict property inland. “These should be in-filled before considering such development on the waterfront,” he said. Alan Holman said the design looked like a warehouse for people. “What is the imperative to develop this land now, and if there is a good reason, get something better than warehouses,” said Holman. Madden spoke at the end of the meeting, saying the city is not deciding between his plan versus a public park or an industrial pipe-yard, which he later called a pipe-dream. “There is already a plan in place for development on this site,” said Madden. “Size is the topic here.” He said he has been through the issues and problems of developing the waterfront during his time as a city councillor in Newfoundland, and as a developer there. “The times they are a-changing,” he said. “Time will pass you by. “You should be glad there are people willing to come here and spend this kind of money. There has to be some development just like there has to be some parks.” He said that Charlottetown needs more residents in the downtown if it wants to revitalize the area.

Put Down The Phones....please

The bottom line is that a number of polling agencies have over 69% of Canadians agreeing that hand-held cell phones should be banned so why not give it a try... I near got clipped the other day by a young driver who went through a stop sign while talking on her phone and I've noticed myself doing foolish things like that in the past as well... I do a lot of business travelling in Nova Scotia where they have enforced this rule so I now carry a "Bluetooth" device in my briefcase and I can honestly say that it's a lot safer driving with two hands on the wheel as opposed to one... Mr. Premier, you didn't listen to the Sunday Shopping Committee's recommendation so why not do the same here and overrule this Committee's report and enforce this reasonable change in the law.... Ronnie has the legislation ready so put down the phones....
Dialing and driving to remain legal on P.E.I.
Friday, November 28, 2008
CBC News
A legislative committee on Prince Edward Island has decided not to recommend the province ban hand-held cellphones while driving.
The committee held public hearings over the past several months to consider such a ban.
A report tabled in the P.E.I. legislature Friday by committee chair Janice Sherry said there wasn't enough information to recommend an outright ban. The report said the province should study the issue further over the next year, and look at what other jurisdictions are doing.
It also recommended that the province educate Islanders about the dangers of using a cellphone while driving.

Smart Move Minister Sheridan...

I expect that without this announcement our construction industry was looking at very weak forecasts over the next couple of years as housing starts, retail development and small service industry projects were being scaled back to about half the normal amount. This announcement should help restore some confidence in the banking and development industry and boost some moral for many of our small sub contractors who will benefit from this work. There will be a crowd of people who will be whining that we're putting ourselves too far in debt but on the other hand it could be very good timing to pick up some Federal initiatives to help fund these projects. I always believe that a "new" dollar spent here in our community turns itself over a minimum of 5 times and finds its way around our community which could be really important during this economic downturn. Many of these projects are long overdue and most of them are for education and health care all of which all Islanders benefit… so why not do them now when the Government will be getting good market prices for construction as opposed to waiting for the economy to come back and then we have to pay through the nose for the projects… Kudos to Minister Sheridan and Premier Ghiz for ramping up these projects..
P.E.I. plans half billion in capital spending
Friday, November 28, 2008
CBC News
The P.E.I. capital budget announced Friday lays out $510 million in spending over the next five years with the goal of stimulating the economy.
Health care projects
Queen Elizabeth Hospital redevelopment: $53.4 million
Prince County Hospital dialysis services: $1.2 million
Replace Prince Edward Home: $22 million
Summerset Manor in Summerside: $14 million
Colville Manor in Souris: $9 million
O'Leary Hospital/Beechwood Clinic: $3.7 million
The government will increase its capital investment levels in the first three years of the plan to stimulate the economy, before returning to normal spending levels in the last two years.
"This capital budget spending is strategic, and will result in a stronger economy down the road," said Provincial Treasurer Wes Sheridan.
"Continuing to invest in our Island community is the best way to weather any challenges we may face as a result of downturns in the global economy."
The plan includes $116.8 million for health-care infrastructure, $254.5 million for highways and $41.8 million for schools.
Education projects
Completion of schools in Montague in Summerside
French language school in the Rustico region
Expansion of the École François Buote
Expansion of trades training programs
School buses: $10.7 million
The government expects the five-year spending plan to create 5,043 jobs, generate $39.3 million in new provincial tax revenues and add $278 million to the provincial gross domestic product.
The highways funding will enable government to rebuild more than 700 kilometres of roads and repair 35 bridges. It includes $1 million in road improvements on First Nations reserves. The budget also contains funds to partner with the federal government on a renewed Atlantic Gateway project.
Industry infrastructure is a target for spending as well. The BioCommons Research Park is allocated $15 million and another $19 million is set aside for improvements to information technology systems.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

OUCH!!!... I see an appeal coming...

This is a major blow to the ADI Group one of the region’s largest soils engineering and testing companies whose head office is out of Fredericton NB. The CEO of the company is Hollis Cole who has won numerous engineering and management awards including a number of years where the company held the title as one of "Canada's 50 Best Managed Companies"... The bottom line here is (if I could paraphrase the Judge's comments) the Court is saying that ADI had no clue as to what the Company was doing and this is supposed to be the business they are experts in.... I know Hollis well and he's not the kind of guy that is going to lay down and accept this decision so everyone can certainly expect an appeal.. I also know Justice Campbell better and he would have studied the facts very well before he rendered his decision so the outcome of the appeal will be very interesting.... there are big dollars involved here so in the interim I suspect it will be tough sledding for ADI as the spotlight from existing and potential clients, suppliers, lenders, etc... will be on them and unfortunately there are no winners when something goes wrong..
Compost plant builders lose $4.3M lawsuit
Friday, November 28, 2008
CBC News
The builders of P.E.I.'s compost plant were ordered on Friday by the province's Supreme Court to pay the designers of the facility $4.3 million.
'I find ADI's remediation of the facility to have been unnecessary, ill-advised and ineffective.'— Justice Gordon Campbell
The dispute centred around the quality of the compost coming out of the plant. The designers of the plant, Waste Conversion Inc., contended the compost was lower grade, Category B compost, and that its contract was terminated before it could fix the problem.
The defendant, ADI, is the company that won the contract from the P.E.I. government in 2001 to deal with the compost that would be coming out of the province's new waste watch system. ADI hired WCI to design and operate the plant.
There were some problems in the early months of operation, and WCI's contract was terminated in December 2002.
WCI sued after being terminated. The company went on to charge that ADI's solution to the problem was inadequate. ADI counter-sued, saying WCI's design was inadequate.
In a written decision, Supreme Court Justice Gordon Campbell found for WCI.
Campbell ruled ADI didn't understand how the facility was supposed to work, making the comparison to a washing machine.
"Instead of allowing the washing machine to go through its various cycles to produce clean clothing ready to go into the dryer or on the line, ADI simply unplugged the machine and used it as a tub in which to dump dirty clothes into cold water," wrote Campbell.
"They had unwittingly killed the biological process that was at the heart of the WCI design.… I find ADI's remediation of the facility to have been unnecessary, ill-advised and ineffective. It was a failure."
ADI has 30 days to appeal the ruling.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Christmas Comes Early.....Hats Off To Mr. Homburg

Santa showed up in Charlottetown yesterday with a great announcement for Downtown Charlottetown which could be the turning point for a new resurgence of opportunity for the downtown core.... This investment will help restore some confidence to some of the regional players in the financing and real estate development market and Charlottetown may get back on their radar as a place in invest.... Great work Richard and all the best on your new's welcome news...
$45M development for downtown Charlottetown to proceed
Friday, November 28, 2008
CBC News
The developer hopes to have the hotel complete for the spring of 2010. (CBC)
Homburg Invest intends to proceed with a $45-million development in downtown Charlottetown, despite poor economic forecasts and wrangling over parking spaces.
Homburg, which owns the Confederation Court Mall, plans to build a 10-storey hotel on top of the mall and a new office building on Fitzroy. The National Bank Building and the Holman Building would get new exteriors.
"It was Roosevelt who said, 'The only thing you have to fear is fear itself,'" CEO Richard Homburg said at the launch of the project Thursday.
The developer has been talking about a hotel on top of the mall for months, but arguments with the city over parking looked like they could scuttle the project. While Homburg did not link the developments directly with a $30-million loan from the province, that might have done a lot to soothe concerns about parking.
Homburg wanted parking in the Queen Street Parkade, but building on top of that parkade is not possible. It seems likely now the Pownal Street Parkade, a few blocks away, will be expanded and hotel guests will rely on valet parking.
Homburg laughed off the parking problem Thursday, saying only Islanders expected to park in front of the building they were going to.
Despite the difficult economic times, Homburg said this was the time to build.
"Postponing this development would probably mean it would never happen. It is really something not everyone would take the risk of doing, especially not in Atlantic Canada," he said.
Homburg said direct flights to Charlottetown from the United States, Boston, New York and Detroit, are creating opportunities, and the extra 81 hotel rooms will help Charlotteown attract bigger conventions.
"We choose to do this in Charlottetown because we see tremendous opportunities for the downtown. We think it will add major attraction for tourists and for people to stay more," he said.
Homburg hopes to have the new hotel built by the spring of 2010.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Christmas Grinch... "hey it's parade day"..

Well Christmas is coming and the Grinch is already lurking around Souris (Friendliest Folks Around).... in fact the Town should have no problem to figure out a theme for their annual Parade... throw the Mayor up on a float as "Grinch"... and maybe the three overpaid political hacks at IRAC could be the "Three Wise Men"... certainly great to have those "common sense rules" in place... maybe we should all protest that parade....
IRAC upholds decision to disallow trailer
The Guardian
SOURIS — The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission upheld the Town of Souris’ 2002 bylaw Tuesday, intended to phase out the use of trailers within town limits.It did so by denying an appeal made by Souris Trailer Park owners Anne McPhee and Billy MacMaster of Rollo Bay, who earlier this year allowed a mobile home into the park instead of a mini-home which new regulations call for. The trailer was placed in the park without a permit, and put on the spot a former tenant had vacated. When McPhee and MacMaster applied for the permit, it was denied in accordance with the municipal bylaw which makes it illegal to replace one trailer with another. “Any pre-existing mobile home is considered ‘prior and non-conforming’, but once that one moves out of there, no other can replace it, only a mini-home of the appropriate size,” said town administrator Shelly McInnis. Mayor Joanne Reid was pleased with the outcome of the IRAC decision, which took over a month to come down. “In its statement, IRAC said that the Town of Souris correctly applied its bylaws, and I was very pleased about that because we really do put a lot of time into refining our bylaws and this decision makes me feel very good,” she said. Because the McPhee/MacMaster mobile home was in the park without the town’s permission, it was never granted access to sewer and water services. “A tenant is living there, and we understand there is water going into the place, but I can only say at this point that we never gave it to them, and it would be illegal if we did. And we do have the right to ask for the mobile home to be removed,” added the mayor. However, until the issue is discussed among council, Reid said she will not be making any further statement. Anne McPhee said she was surprised and disappointed to hear IRAC's ruling. She said she and MacMaster will be appealing, and are speaking to lawyers now. “Where else is a mobile home going to go in the town? In a trailer park, of course,” she said. She cited how much the park has been fixed up since she and MacMaster bought it a few years ago. “It is really very pretty now, and a decent place like that is needed for people who are unable to go into a more expensive setting,” she said. McPhee and MacMaster have 20 days to appeal the IRAC decision.

I'm batting 0 in 2 with the Liberals...

It's kind of disappointing for those who took their time to make a formal presentation to the Legislative Committee to find out that the Government of the day did not accept their own Committee's recommendation. This would have been the second time in my life that I had ever felt compelled enough to go before a Legislative Committee. The first was back when Liberal Jeannie Lea chaired the Red Tape Review and I spent a lot of time on my presentation with a special emphasis on reviewing IRAC. There were a lot of people who came forward at that hearing with many complaints about Government Red Tape but the net results was nothing happened so the next election the Liberals were booted out. This time around I showed up again with a host of reasons why I felt we should allow the retailer to decide whether or not they wanted to open and that was generally the feeling from most of the retail operators, short of a few convenience store operators. You would think in this economy that the Province would want to keep the stores open for the extra employment and the opportunity to pick up more tax revenue from our tourist visitors. Don’t be surprised if the Big Box retailers end up going to court and sending the Province a clear message that they can stay open as was the case in Nova Scotia….
P.E.I. shops to remain closed on winter Sundays
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
CBC News
Despite a recommendation from a legislative committee, stores on P.E.I. will remain closed on Sundays from Christmas to Victoria Day.
The decision comes as the province reaches the end of its second season of Sunday shopping. In April, a legislative committee completed a review of the current legislation, hearing 36 presentations and receiving more than 100 written submissions.
That committee recommended an end to restrictions on Sunday shopping.
But Premier Robert Ghiz announced Wednesday there would be no change. Shops will be closed on Dec. 28, and will not open on another Sunday until the Victoria Day weekend.
The decision leaves P.E.I. as the only jurisdiction in the country to restrict Sunday shopping.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Talk About Weird Music...."who got the money?"

I was watching The Partridge Family many years ago and Keith was in trouble with his Mom so he looked over to his brother Danny Partridge for some reassurance and Danny's line to his Mom was "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably a...?" and this is what I refer to as the classic “caught in a lie line” ...Gee, who’s the reporter on this one... is the Editorial Staff asleep at the switch...."That promoter has been identified in the past as P.E.I.’s Dave Christian, who also organized the Shoreline Music Festival." --- The Guardian has always reported the promoter as Summerset Music Festival… but the bottom line is "Who Got The Money?" Mark Carr-Rollitt says that his and his partner's Company got none of the $400,000.00 Government money so I'm guessing they did it for free.... surely there are some roving reporters who can figure this one out.... somebody got the money and the rumour today is that there is another $200,000.00 not accounted for.... this attempt to clear the air only raises more questions... one of the news items in July about the Shoreline Music Festival promoter is about canceling a concert and bands having trouble getting paid but they must have cleared that up as the good folks at Tourism appear to have peeled them out $400,000.00 none of which was given to Conference and Events Management... I also have some land in Florida the duck might like...
Company offers clarification of concert role

The Guardian
Conference and Events Management attempted to clear the air Monday about its involvement in the Summerset Music Festival in September. Mark Carr-Rollitt says his company was not the promoter and in no way received the $400,000 the provincial government spent on the Alanis Morissette concert. The Vista Bay site in Alexandra drew rave reviews but fewer people bought tickets than originally hoped.Carr-Rollitt said Conference and Events Management Inc. began discussions with the promoter of Summerset Music Festival in November 2007 to organize a concert on P.E.I. and was hired as the event manager. That promoter has been identified in the past as P.E.I.’s Dave Christian, who also organized the Shoreline Music Festival. The provincial government jumped on board in July, eventually spending $500,000 on the show. Of that, $100,000 has since been paid back but taxpayers are out the remaining $400,000. The Guardian has learned that with just days to go, Christian wanted to stop the concert for reasons no one will talk about on the record due to confidentiality agreements. Speculation is poor ticket sales. Carr-Rollitt said his company and government realized that cancelling the show was not an option and decided to proceed without the promoter because everything was ready to go and the province’s reputation would have taken a major hit in the concert business had the show been cancelled.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Come Clean With The Scheme....

The bottom line is the Tourism Department blew it when they wouldn't work out a concert deal with David Carver (an experienced concert promoter) last summer so The Girls decided to do it "themselves".... so they get on the phone and they start calling David's "A" list only to be ignored... so they cook up a scheme to get into the business themselves using taxpayer's money. On Aug. 15th The Guardian has the story that "Summerset Music Festival" is the promoter behind the Alanis Morissette Outdoor Concert to be held on Sept. 13th but the funny thing is if you check this Company out it wasn't even registered as a Corporation until Oct. 15, 2008 and when you look closer it is owned by a numbered Company 101227 P.E.I. Inc. which was incorporated on Sept. 24, 2008 both of which were incorporated well after the concert took place. If you dig into the PEI Corporate Registry there was a former "Summerset Music Festival Inc." that had its name changed to "Outside Music Festival Inc." and it became a non profit corporation on Aug. 6, 2008. The exact same directors have been operating a successful events company Conference & Events Management Inc. since April of 2004 and it begs the question why didn't the Tourism Department write the concert loan in this Company name. Surely Tourism didn't think the directors were doing this concert out of the goodness of their heart so why the "non profit newco" or did the concert promoters already know back on August 6th that it was going to be a "flop" at the expense of us taxpayers... the more I dig into this the more I believe Valerie wasn't driving the bus and I'm damn sure it wasn't the Premier Office as Treasury Board didn't even see it.... I'm like a dog with a bone and if someone doesn't challenge the administration of Tourism the next thing they'll be trying to buy Rodd's (don't think they haven't thought of that) and give away free room stays so they could pat themselves on the back for upping the occupancy…. Valarie said her Deputy knew that the promoters wanted to cancel the Concert the week before but the question is what did she know from the start.......come clean with the scheme...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Again, "Who Got The Money?"....

Back in September I was asking "Who Got The Money?" (see my Sept. 17th post) and here we are two months later and it's now just becoming news..... but I still don't understand "Who Got The Money" and why don't they explain why they aren't paying it back??? I noticed Mike Currie was on it this week in the House and his following comments were very funny....
"Alanis Morissette, she certainly had a very famous song. It was called
'Hand in my Pocket'. Well I'm certainly sure somebody had their hand in their pocket on this one," Progressive Conservative MLA Mike Currie said in the house.
Surely someone is going to explain who the promoters are that we gave $400,000.00 of our taxpayers money too.... there were a lot of people talking about it today at the farmers market... apparently we have $400,000.00 to throw away at a rock concert but no money to give the "Old Home Week" committee..

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Did you say "Bankruptcy".... I say "No Rae Me"...

Here's how someone from Ontario reacted to this story.."What the ? from Ontario writes: I thought the headline said Rae declares bankruptcy. We will all be doing that if he does to Canada what he did to Ontario." It appears the writer has a point when you look at the state of affairs in Ontario during Rae's reign as NDP Premier... I find it hard to believe that Liberals would take him seriously but then again what do I know... but I've got money that Canadians will never elect him PM... and surely Liberals can figure that out.....
Rae declares candidacy for Liberal leadership
OTTAWA — Bob Rae has formally declared his candidacy for the leadership of the federal Liberal party. The former NDP premier of Ontario, who won a Toronto seat in a byelection last March and was re-elected last month, says he has the “judgment, character values and experience” to lead the country. Two others are in the race — Dominic LeBlanc and Rae’s longtime friend Michael Ignatieff. Ignatieff is considered the frontrunner going into the leadership convention in Vancouver next May; polls indicate Rae is having trouble shaking the legacy of his deficit-ridden government on the 1990s. Rae says he’s proud of his performance as Ontario premier, when he faced large deficits and labour unrest, and he says he’s learned from it and won’t try to hide it. Rae and Ignatieff were locked in a tight leadership race in 2006 before Stephane Dion came up the middle and won a surprise victory.

"a Deer in the headlights"...

I was watching Compass tonight and seen the clip of Mike Currie asking Valarie if the concert promoter tried to cancel the concert the day before the event... she looked like "a Deer in the headlights"...trying to explain it… and I was not surprised that her Deputy knew this a week before she did as it's quite obvious who is running the show. Oh what the Hell! What's $400,000.00 of taxpayers' money anyway, just a little "chump change" compared to the "Big Break Giveaway"... but don't worry we taxpayers’ aren't on the hook.... we aren't going to have to pay.... .it doesn't matter as it coming out of the Tourism budget....!!!!
The following is part of a response that David Carver gave to the Guardian which helps explain how the concert business works, something obviously lost on PEI’s Tourism staff...

David Carver from Stratford, PE writes:
Unfortunately the media only has the space/time to deliver part of the story here. Prior to the summer of 2008, when we (myself, Tourism PEI, and every tourism operator, store, gas station, hotel, restaurant etc.) lost the Eagles to Moncton, I pitched Tourism PEI on another marquee artist, indicating that if the province were interested, I would submit an offer. Tourism PEI indicated we would have the same deal pints for this artist that we had for the Eagles. I had the artist seriously looking at the offer. It takes an artist months to say yes or no, and during the waiting period I read a story in the Guardian that said the Minister of Tourism had a binding offer with another promoter for the same act. That artist passed on my offer and on coming to PEI. Essentially the Minister took a business idea of mine and brought it to the competition. Despite this, in my opinion, questionable policy for courting entrepreneurs to the province and then taking their ideas to other entrepreneurs/competition, when that artist passed on the offer, I emailed Tourism PEI the idea of Van Halen as another option. The email I got back said the province was not interested in Van Halen as it did not fit with the provinces marketing strategies. A short while later, I read in the Guardian that the Minister of Tourism was in negotiations with Van Halen’s agent.
With respect to taxpayers money and sponsorship, at the end of the day the taxpayers of PEI neither have their money at risk, nor actually even have any of their money invested in my concerts. The PEI Government is not diverting funds that could go to Health Care. They are neither risking nor investing taxpayers dollars (in my shows anyway) HOW THE NUMBERS WORK. (Before you naysayers write back and say, sure Carver is spinning this, call any accountant in the province. They will verify this) A concert like Aerosmith generates over $250,000 in PST from ticket sales and day of show event sales. From an economic impact of $12 million (this is from Tourism PEI and although I believe it is closer to $15 M, I’ll work with their numbers) the province generates an additional $1.2 Million in PST. All this in one weekend. So, a marquee concert generates $1,450,000.00 directly to the province. Someone comes to you saying they will execute, in one weekend, a business idea AT NO RISK TO YOU, and when it is over you will have a $12 Million economic impact, $3 Million dollar marketing impact, and a PST influx, again in one weekend, of $1,450,000, again all at no risk to you. Any person from this planet would say, “well, what do I need to do to make this happen.” All my investors and I ask for is a sponsor fee to a) reward our taking the risk, b) to help protect our downside, which c) allows us to make offers for marquee artist in the first place. So, in the end, what would you rather have, 100% of nothing, or the higher share of $1,450,000.00. The reality is that the province only pays a share of that sponsor fee, and it is generated mostly from the PST I pay them, plus a small amount, which is generated from the $12 M economic impact and $1,450,000.00 PST. The host city (through hotel taxes etc) Confederation Bridge and other entities contribute significantly. And for those of you that think profit is a dirty word, none of my investors are from PEI, and yet through my passion and their generosity and entrepreneurial spirit, they invest in high-risk concerts. None of them, prior to my speaking passionately about what I consider my second home, had any particular knowledge or affection for PEI until, you know, they came here and now, of course want to move here. What do they do with their share of the profit? Reinvest it and even more, with me so we all can benefit from bigger concerts in PEI. I personally like the Minister and Deputy Minister of Tourism. I think they should stay on and enjoy the ride. I just want to bring concerts here, promote this wonderful province, and earn and then be treated respectfully.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Valarie..."kids say the darndest things...."

Valarie was waxing philosophically this morning when she took a stab at David Carver...“My philosophy with a lot of things has always been — you get more flies with honey than vinegar and I guess that kind of sums it up,’’.... so I took a real close look at Valerie's comments in the following interview in the Guardian. I thought I might take a stab at some philosophy to explain her comments but I didn't know where to start... I thought about Art Linkletter's "Kids Say The Darndest Things" ....but the kids were usually "spewing wisdom" which really didn't apply here so I moved on to an old Bob Marley tune "I shot the Sheriff" but in this case the Deputy is still walking around..... LOOK, the bottom line is I'm no philosopher and I doubt if I could fine a quote to summarize her comments but I do know this Valarie... whatever way you try to explain it the bottom line is your Department squandered $400,000.00 that comes out of taxpayers’ pockets.... "Houston, We’ve Got A Problem".....

Minister willing to work with concert promoter despite criticisms
The Guardian

the following is part of Valerie Docherty's comments...

......The province went in a different direction this year, backing a concert Carver was not involved in. Alanis Morissette headlined a show in Alexandra. While the site got rave reviews it didn’t draw nearly as many people as government hoped it would. The province contributed a $100,000 grant to the show plus an additional $400,000 in bridge financing, bringing the total commitment to $500,000. “Of that, $100,000 was a forgivable grant and the other they are paying back $100,000 of the $400,000 bridge loan so the cost to government, over and above what was planned, is $300,000 that is being looked after by my department so taxpayers are not going to have to . . . we’re not going to have to find another $300,000 somewhere else.’’...

For the complete text of the story

Monday, November 17, 2008

What a difference a "year" makes....

You may doubt the old expression "what a difference a day makes" but there is little doubt in "what a difference a year makes" especially if you are trying to sell a hotel chain... It's unfortunate for Rodd Hotels but their timing couldn't have been worst when they announced last November they were up for sale. It appears they weren't ready for the sale as it took until June of this year to get their "Acquisition Opportunity Packages" out to prospective buyers and by that time buyers like ourselves were off pursuing other opportunities. We probably would have taken a shot at them but their consultants were trying to play both sides of the fence. What I mean by this is they were calling for individual bids on a single property, or groups of properties, or all the properties en bloc.... kind of like having your cake and eating it too... it was kind of hard to seriously invest money into developing an offer to buy the whole Company when behind closed doors they could decide to sell off a couple of the properties which would have thrown off assumptions purchasers may have been considering... but hey I certainly don't know as much as those high priced consultants. But I do know there doesn't seem to be much going on and in the year since the announcement a lot has happened, the economy is in the toilet, it was a horrible summer, occupancy in these properties was severely down, and the money markets to finance this type of deal have totally evaporated... there were rumours that the Charlottetown Hotel and the Yarmouth properties were sold but no real evidence.... so it begs the question why would they sell at the bottom of the market? and what is the Province doing to see that there is new reinvestment in our Island Resorts going into the New Year… in any event let’s all hope that some new investment opportunities come forward for the properties as they help lure people to our golf courses and we surely need an income boost here….
Rodd's announced they were up for sale P.E.I. watching Rodd hotel chain sale
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 2007
CBC News
The government of Prince Edward Island will be keeping a close eye on the fate of Rodd Hotels and Resorts, now that the Island-based chain has been put up for sale.
The company, the largest privately-owned chain in Atlantic Canada, announced it is putting its properties on the block Wednesday.
"The Ernst and Young company, that will be acting as their advisers, they have sort of opened the door for us to be able to keep in communications with them so that we have an idea of what's going on," said Tourism Minister Valerie Docherty.
Docherty said the province and the company had a close relationship, but would not reveal specifics of how much provincial money was invested in the hotel chain.
"It's not for me to speak specifically about the financial relationship. But because of it, this is another reason why we're going to keep those lines of communication open, so that we make sure that the interests of the province are looked after," she said.
Docherty said officials in the Development Department have the exact figures on the Island's investment.
Officials in the Island's tourism industry were expressing their regret about the sale Wednesday.
Rodd Hotels and Resorts have been part of the industry for more than 60 years.
"It's a sad day for the tourism industry on Prince Edward Island and a sad day for industry as a whole," said Kim Green, CEO of Tourism Charlottetown.
"There was a lot of trickle effects of Rodd's being located here on Prince Edward Island, from buying locally and so forth, so it's sad. It's very sad."
Judy MacDonald, president of the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., described the Rodd name as something of a symbol for tourism on the Island.
"A little bit of sadness that the Rodd name perhaps may not be attached to this business that has been such an important part of P.E.I.'s tourism, and of course one I think that tourism operators and industry members have looked up to in terms of leadership and example," said MacDonald.
Docherty also expressed some personal regret at the announced sale, noting her first summer job at the age of 13 was at a Rodd hotel.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Trudeaumania..... again...

I just got home from the annual Liberal Dinner at the Delta Hotel where Justin Trudeau was the guest speaker and I can tell you that he impressed the 900 plus people that attended. Normally these dinners attract about 300 people when you're are in opposition and that usually doubles to about 600 when you're in Government. I understand that the tickets went pretty fast and in fact the dinner was sold out due to the high interest in Justin. He swooned the women and he excited the crowd with new Liberal hope... He certainly didn't disappoint anyone and if he ever takes a run at the future liberal leadership he won a lot of supporters here tonight. His speech was very powerful and his delivery was probably one of the best I've ever seen but I won't go into detail as I don't think you want to hear about all the beautiful liberalism.... Earlier in the day he meet with the youth wing of the party and I spoke to a few of them who attended and they found him extremely friendly, very bright and very interested in their issues. A lot of people are expecting him to announce that he is going to take a run at the Liberal leadership this time around but he has clearly said he's "out" and the talk is that he has agreed to co-chair the event in Vancouver which will certainly give him lots of National exposure. He clearly has a lot of his father mannerisms and I'm sure we're all going to hear a lot about him in the future...
Trudeau visits Charlottetown
Newly elected Liberal MP Justin Trudeau speaks to young Liberals in Charlottetown Saturday and will speak to a dinner that night. Trudeau is the son of the late Pierre Trudeau and former prime minister. Justin won the Montreal riding of Papineau in the last federal election and is seen as some as a future leader of the Liberal party. (Guardian photo by Brian McInnis)

I'm so Happy I could Kiss those IRAC boys...

Well not really, maybe a little, little hug.... or as Maxwell Smart always said "would you believe" maybe... blow them a Kiss... NOT A CHANCE. Gas prices are 76.6 cents per litre in other markets which is roughly 9% lower than our prices.... bottom line is Groceries in Ontario are higher per "shopping basket" than they are here on PEI because of Competition. PEI has more grocery store square footage per capita than Ontario which results in lower grocery prices and if we had more Gas Bars delivering more fuel "with no regulations" then we would have lower gas prices.... there seems to be this crazy idea that a bulk load of fuel leaving Irving’s plant in Saint John would cost more to deliver to PEI than Ontario. Simply put it's easier and quicker to get to PEI by boat or bulk truck tanker than to the Ontario market. Once the gas is put in the bulk tanks in either Province it's a hell of a lot cheaper overhead wise for the gas companies to get it to anyplace on PEI than it is to deliver it from one side of Toronto to the other... It's great to be getting lower prices but if anything should be lowered it should be "the boom" on those high paid IRAC guys.... ship them all down to Tourism to help the Girls explain how they did so well running "Golf Links" this year...
Gasoline drops to mid-80 cents as of midnight
The Guardian
It is a number never seen this year at the gas pump, 83.5 cents per litre. It is the new lowest price of gasoline on P.E.I. as of today, following a seven-cent drop in price approved by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission. “Declining demand, continued unfavourable economic news and a strengthened U.S. dollar have combined to impact both crude and refined product prices,” said the order issued at midnight today. “Posted prices for gasoline, furnace oil and diesel are now all below year ago levels.” Furnace and stove oil dropped by 4.5 cents and diesel by five cents but there was no change in the price of propane. The price as of Friday stood between 92.5 and 93.6.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Things will get better... trust yourself..

Having financial troubles is not a great story to hear but it does happen and I can tell you from my own experience back in the early eighties that it can be very depressing, stressful and can shake ones confidence. I had started my business in 1980 and worked really hard but interest rates shot up to 21% and the economy took a twister and it wasn't long before I was up against the ropes. In my own case I can remember many a night without sleep worrying about losing everything (which wasn't much) or how I was going to hurt some of my creditors because I couldn't figure out how I was going to be able to get out of financial hawk? I was embarrassed and humiliated at how it was going "to look" to my friends, family, lenders, neighbours, etc... and it was really want to dodge start making up stories that become lies... you don't know what to tell people and soon your financial troubles take on a life of its own and you begin to blame yourself totally for all your troubles.... in my case I was very lucky. I had an Uncle and other family that helped me with some financial support that I'll never forget... I was living with a partner who supported me emotionally (she's now my Princess)... I had some great friends, employees and sub contractors who had to be very patient... for the most part when I had to face my creditors and the banks they were very reasonable. The economy eventually came back and things got better and I’ve tried to be very loyal to those who supported me during this period. When I look back at it I now realize that sometimes you get so absorbed in your own troubles and you tend to blame them on yourself when in fact had I looked around I would have seen that a lot of other things beyond my own control were happening all around me... not unlike what is going on now with our economy. There doesn't seem to be anyone who can tell us where this current downturn is going to go but the thing I've done in the interim is as opposed to lay off staff I've asked our team to be more focused on service and be more frugal on how we operate as a business and in their own spending. I've asked each and every one of them to be conscience of their family, friends, co-workers, sub trades, and if they see any of them under stress or having trouble then encourage them to talk about it, give them support and try and help in whatever way they can... remember the world is not going to end and we need all these people with us... so believe in yourself, stay focused and don't forget we all have someone we can ask for help... things will get better.
Bankruptcies up 19% in P.E.I.
Friday, November 14, 2008
CBC News
Personal bankruptcies are up 19 per cent on Prince Edward Island, as the economy slides closer to recession.
In the first three quarters of 2007 there were 315 bankruptcies on P.E.I., but to the end of September this year there have been 374.
Robert Powell, vice-president of A.C. Poirier and Associates, one of several Island companies working with people who are going bankrupt, said job losses on the Island have made it difficult for some people to meet their daily needs.
"They are just financially stressed. They are carrying a lot of debt," Powell told CBC News Friday.
"We don't see very often people that are going on vacations, et cetera, and having a good time at the expense of the creditors. It's more attempting to meet the basic needs of themselves and their families."
Powell does not expect the situation to get better any time soon. His office has had to increase staffing recently to deal with the extra workload.

A Much Better Plan....

I'm really pleased to see the Ghiz Government going in the direction of a Provincial Museum as it is probably a bigger priority than an Artifactory. One of the first things the Ghiz Government did when they got into office was to cancel the contract our Company had been awarded (from the previous Government) to build the new Artifactory in Murray River. We had spent a lot of time and money on winning the bid but the project didn't really seem to make a lot of sense and was more politically motivated than it was good planning... it certainly makes a lot more sense to have a Provincial Museum centrally located where tourists, students, researchers, etc... from all over the Island can easily access this valuable resource as opposed to putting it at either end of the Island. The Government took their time and listened to the stakeholders and it certainly looks like the way to go. Some people may think that in tough times we should hold back on our capital projects like this but it is really going to be very quiet in the private sector so I think it's important for Government to step up the capital plan to help keep people working during these hard times. I think PEI is the only Province in Canada without a Provincial Museum and it is certainly long overdue….. Great decision and good news from Mr. Ghiz and Ms. Bertram… keep it up….
P.E.I. to build central museum
Friday, November 14, 2008
CBC News
Prince Edward Island will build a new provincial museum, Heritage Minister Carolyn Bertram announced Friday.
During the May 2007 election campaign, the Liberals promised to give the idea of a central heritage museum serious consideration. Currently, the provincial museum operates seven sites across the province, but each has a narrow focus, such as fisheries, railways, agriculture and shipbuilding.
The decision to build a central museum came in response to a report the government commissioned on the idea, also released Friday.
Heritage on P.E.I. is lacking co-ordinated vision and planning, says the 143-page report. What is being presented is fragmented and weakly connected.
The report notes the current piecemeal approach excludes many subject areas such as natural history, Aboriginal heritage, women's history, archaeological sites, and Island customs, stories, and languages.
"Some of the areas covered in the report, such as greater involvement of the aboriginal community and investment in the Museum and Heritage Foundation sites, are already being addressed," said Bertram in a news release.
The report recommends the new facility be operational within five years.
"Other recommendations may be implemented over a longer term," said Bertram.
The study was prepared by the Iris Group of Stratford in association with A.L. Arbic Consulting of Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"2 to 4" or "7 to 9" ....

It wasn't too long ago that this Company was the Darling of the Canadian Stock Market trading above $120. a share, in fact I had some at $90. that I sold at $60. and then bought back again "cheap” at $30 only to see it go to $10. at which time I said "uncle". One of my Buddies still has a bunch of the shares and I keep telling him to actually try and get the individual shares certificates themselves and if he ever does a room over in his basement he could use them as wall paper. I don't like knocking Companies especially Canadian ones with such great history but it seems every quarter they are laying off more and more people and in this economy it sure looks like the making of a "wake".... it's kind of funny that although they couldn't seem to get their numbers up they will probably end up there "2 to 4" or "7 to 9" and you can probably count on that...
Nortel suffers $3.4B loss in Q3; 1,300 jobs to be cut
The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Nortel Networks Corp. (TSX:NT) reported a multibillion-dollar quarterly loss and said it is cutting 1,300 more jobs and slashing spending Monday, moves analysts say are affecting the company’s long-term viability.“Nortel is substantially less attractive the more it cuts,” said Duncan Stewart, president of Duncan Stewart Asset Management, a Toronto-based money manager. “These sorts of pieces of news make it ever more likely that Nortel will get bought, either in a single chunk, which is actually pretty unlikely, or in bite-sized pieces.” Andy Woyzbun, lead analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, described the effect of the economic downturn on Nortel as “just another kick in the head to someone who is trying to stay upright,” and said his clients are starting to express concern about the company’s long-term viability. “The long-term viability has been an issue for some time now, and it’s only getting worse,” agreed Stewart. The Toronto-headquartered telecommunications equipment maker, reporting in U.S. dollars, posted a third-quarter net loss of $3.41 billion. For the rest of the story see

Good Work Someone...

I came across this excellent notice tool in The Guardian and I don't know if the work was done by the City’s Planning Department or by the Staff of the Guardian but whoever is responsible it is a great tool for keeping people informed. It would be great if all Communities would host such a great tool for keeping the public informed of what is happening in their neighbourhoods... good work someone...
Map of Charlottetown city council business from Monday's monthly meeting
The Guardian
The Guardian has created an fully-functioning Google map showing the locations of resolutions and business conducted at Monday's November monthly meeting of Charlottetown City Council.
Click on the zoom controls on the left to zoom in or out, click on the view controls at top right to change from map to satellite view.
View The Full Screen Map
Map Channels - Embed a Google Map into your website or blog.

Good Thinking....let's work to get Ottawa on board..

It's good to see that our Premier is looking ahead as I'm afraid there is some real seriousness to the economic slowdown that is heading our way. I took some time last week when I was in Toronto and Montreal to drop in and talk to a few Bankers and some other players in the retail development industry and everyone has their radar up and very nervious. It's going to be very tough to get new private projects off the ground and jump starting some large Government mega projects here would certainly help keep our economy going in hard times. The Cornwall bypass is long overdue and the power cable project across the Strait would certainly help us export some of the future electricity that will be coming from the construction of all the new wind mills that are being proposed. The great thing about this plan to kick start these projects is that both the Provincial Liberals and Tories have both been in favour of these projects in the past and they should now really try to work together with their Federal counterparts to get these projects off the ground ASAP....
Fast-tracking major projects will help in downturn: Ghiz
Two mega-construction projects for P.E.I. could be fast-tracked if Prime Minister Stephen Harper agrees to speed up infrastructure spending in Canada, says Premier Robert Ghiz. Canada’s premiers called on Harper to accelerate billions of dollars in funding for roads, transit and sewers following a meeting of Canada’s premiers and the prime minister held Monday in Ottawa. The money would help stimulate the economy, which has been in freefall because of a worldwide financial meltdown. “The Cornwall bypass would be a $40-$50-million project, at least,’’ Ghiz said during an interview with The Guardian from Ottawa. “It would create a lot of jobs, a lot of economic spin-offs, a lot of payroll. Creating those jobs helps us through a difficult time.’’ This is the first meeting of Canada’s premiers and the prime minister since the financial crisis intensified. The meeting dealt almost exclusively with the problems plaguing the economy, and provided the prime minister with a sense of what is happening across Canada prior to next weekend’s meeting of the G20, the world’s 20 largest economies, in Brazil. Ghiz also warned that Prince Edward Island is not immune to the world financial crisis. “We will see the residual effects of a slowdown eventually in Prince Edward Island,’’ warned Ghiz.But the premier believes Canada’s smallest province is well positioned to weather the storm, with minimal damage. “We don’t build cars. We sell potatoes or seafood products. During a slowing economic time, people may not buy cars, but they will continue to buy food products.’’Most of the first ministers appear to agree that with the economy slumping, a first step for governments is to speed up spending on infrastructure projects already approved in principal. Quebec Premier Jean Charest said there is no excuse for further delays in about $4 billion in spending that has already been approved. In Prince Edward Island, funding for the Cornwall bypass could possibly come through funding being considered for the Atlantic Gateway. The electrical cable would be funded through a section of the infrastructure program dedicated to P3s or public- private partnerships. There would also be additional funding through the Building Canada fund that would allow both the province and its municipalities to build new roads, as well as water and sewer systems. Ghiz said those projects would create millions of dollars in economic spinoffs and keep the Island economy from going through the economic storm now underway. He said it will also help the province in the long term, by providing a better route for Island goods and an avenue for the province to sell its wind energy to the mainland. The premiers will meet again with Harper early in the new year. While the premier is acknowledging the economy will take a downturn, he’s not saying how bad it is going to get. He said not even the economists are sure about what is going to happen on the world and national stage when it comes to the economy. “It is impossible to say,’’ Ghiz added.

Remind You Of Anywhere....

Someone sent my blog address this piece of Polictial Satire as a PEI parody and some comic relief from The Journal of Political Economy:

The Distortionary Effects of Regulation and Rent Seeking
“Major Major’s father . . . was a . . . God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism. . . .
His specialty was alfalfa, and he made a good thing out of not growing any.
The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow.
The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government gave him, and he spent every penny he didn’t earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce.
Major Major’s father worked without rest at not growing alfalfa. On long winter evenings he remained indoors and did not mend harness, and he sprang out of bed at the crack of noon everyday just to make certain that the chores would not be done.
He invested in land wisely and soon was not growing more alfalfa than any man in the county.”

[Joseph Heller, Catch 22 (New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1996), p. 93 (first published in 1955). As suggested to, and cited in the JPE by Glen Weyin, 2008, vol. 116, no. 3. ]

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holy the cops Basil...

In January of 2006 a dentist from Ireland Richard Fitzgerald hires a former bar manager Eoin Little to buy the broken down Summerside Waterfront Mall. Everyone anointed them as Developers and they immediately announced a $25,000,000.00 seven storey condo project to be built on top of the mall roof. When I saw the sketches of this seven storey wonder I rolled my eyes but I didn't want to cast doubts on the project as a scaled down version might have worked. The media certainly jumped on the band wagon with the promoter (as if the units were already built) and I can remember the CBC heading up to Anglo/Tignish when the same developer announced a "gated upscale summer retreat development" as if it were some God given success..... they could sell “Ice to the Eskimos”….. when the Silver Fox Curling Club reasonably objected to losing some of their parking the media made Club members out as villains.... the Developers bounced a $300,000.00 cheque to the architects and refused to pay their bills... the Mayor and some Town officials headed on the Town's tab across to Ireland to beg the Developer to go ahead.... a number of years ago Bruce MacDonald a local Summerside lawyer who was then a Town Councillor was trying to award a small contract to a local firm Richardson Associates. When his fellow Councillors over ruled him in favour of an off Island firm Bruce commented that it seemed "you couldn't get ahead on PEI unless you had a briefcase and a tie and were from Aulac, N.B."... well guys have a look at the story below it appears that... Richard Fitzgerald's Oran Group bought a waste company for about $90 million Canadian and sold it for $20 million a couple of years later... and somehow I don't think they are going to do as well when they unload the mall... It's a shame that people get hoodwinked by some glossy drawings but it seems we Islanders want to believe anybody and anything from away... here are a few of the older stories on the mall development..
and on the parking fiasco
Recyclers Oran sold to Response at €35m discount
By John Mulligan
Independent News
Saturday May 03 2008
Cork businessman Richard Fitzgerald has sold his Scottish recycling firm to the Cork-based Response Group in a deal that is likely to have valued the firm in excess of €10m.
The final purchase price could represent a discount to the €45m that Mr Fitzgerald's Oran group paid for the business in 2005. The operation was owned by the Snowie family at the time, which sought €60m when the business was originally put on the market in 2004.
The Response Group is headed by Noel Hanley, and it's claimed the deal will boost the firm's annual turnover to roughly €100m.
When Mr Fitzgerald, a well-known dentist turned developer, acquired the Scottish business, it was renamed Oran. Accounts filed for the UK operation to the year ending November 2006, show that it posted revenues of £25.6m (€32.8m), compared to £23.5m the previous year. It had also managed to swing back into positive territory with an operating profit of almost £300,000 compared to a loss of more than £1m in 2005. However, that year it also sold fixed assets worth £5.8m, helping it to generate a final profit of over £2m.
The company, which employs about 300 people, is understood to have lost a number of contracts in recent weeks.
The Response Group has specialized in providing water treatment engineering solutions around Ireland and employs more than 120 people.
Abridged accounts for the firm for 2006 show it made an operating profit of €790,000, compared to €481,000 the previous year. Its 2006 revenues were about €15m, according to the company's website.

Timing Is Everything....when you swing the club..

On June 12, 2007 Robert Ghiz appointed Valerie Docherty, a former civil servant and school teacher, as PEI's Tourism Minister and with that gave her the task of living up to his commitment to dispose of our $30,000,000.00 investment in our Provincial golf courses. On July 30, 2007 Robert Ghiz confirmed to Islanders that the courses were indeed for sale and his Government were actively pursuing getting rid of the courses. Miss Docherty had engaged Melissa MacEachern as her Deputy Minister and together with the team at Golf Links and a high paid consultant they set out to develop a plan to get rid of these courses. Sort of like getting the fox to figure out how to protect the hen house. In the fall of 2007 when they had even more evidence that these courses were bleeding away taxpayer's money did they put them up for sale? NO! These “business wannabes” decided that they may be able to run them better than the last Binns crowd. Even I didn't think they could do anything as crazy as buying back Dundarave but they surely have.... Back in the fall of 2007 there was tons of financing money and buyers in the market and lots of interest knocking at the door but did they even try and take advantage of this and get the Province out of this money losing venture? NO! Again in the spring of 2008 when market conditions were ripe did they even try and put it up for sale? NO! They decided to run it again and lose even more taxpayer's money to the tune of $2,380,000.00 this year alone. In the middle of the summer when they started to see the numbers falling and the economy starting to falter did they step up their pursuit to dispose of these courses? NO! Could they find a buyer to give them 1/4 of what they were worth in the spring of 2007? NO! Do they even have any idea how much of our taxpayer’s value they have squandered with their attempt to turn these losing investments around? NO! Is it time for the Premier to clean house and live up to his commitment and sell these courses? YES! Is Valerie likely to sit with me at the Liberal fund raising dinner this Saturday night? NO!
Tourism tumbles in September
Thursday, November 6, 2008
CBC News
In a very poor month for P.E.I.'s tourism industry, even air traffic, a strong performer all year, was flat during September.
Compared with a year ago in September, traffic over the Confederation Bridge was down 22 per cent and ferry traffic fell 12 per cent, which led to a 6.5 per cent drop in occupancy.
Low visitation in August was almost entirely offset by a 33.3 per cent jump in Islanders staying in the province for their holidays. September also saw an increase in local vacations, up 16.7 per cent, but it was not enough to make up for the loss of visitors.
Over the year, a strong winter and spring have somewhat compensated for a poor high season. Occupancy on the year to date is down 1.1 per cent.
Some areas of strength
International travel is showing some strength, particularly from Germany (up 30.7 per cent) and Japan (up 70.0 per cent). But international travellers make up only 6.8 per cent of the market, so those increases don't amount to much overall. For North American visitors, there was a drop of 12 per cent in September, and that's before the economic crisis that struck in October.
These trends have tourism operators thinking about new marketing strategies, and some have noticed that more affluent people are still travelling. Occupancy rates at many of the one- and two-star hotels in the province are down, while they're up at more expensive three- and four-star hotels.
Kevin Murphy, chair of the Tourism Advisory Council, told CBC News Thursday those wealthy travellers need to be the Island's focus.
"The market in those levels, in those sectors, are performing better than, if you want to call it, the lower-level tourism product," said Murphy.
"There's a strong argument that that's where we should be positioning Prince Edward Island."
Although there may be hope for that market, focusing promotion on that group would be little comfort for operators focused on the bargain traveller.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Living High Off The Hog....Ghiz Did The Right Thing...

We've all heard the expression "Living High Off The Hog" but surely this is one of the greatest example of this age old expression. Make no mistake about it Robert Ghiz was bang on when he called in the auditors and closed down this plant. If you read the Auditors report it's clear that some of the shareholders were thieves at best. If there is any criticism of why the plant was shut down by Opposition Leader Olive Crane it should clearly be directed at her own members....
Hog plant doomed from the start: report
The Guardian
The hog plant forced into receivership last year cost the province over $4 million in losses due to an apparent lack of financial monitoring by government coupled with a lack of outside funding for the plant, say findings from the provincial auditor general’s investigation of the plant’s finances. The audit, released Friday, points to numerous problems with the financial arrangements brokered between the P.E.I. Lending Agency and the Natural Organic Food Group (NOFG) pork plant. In his report, Auditor General Colin Younker is highly critical about the millions of dollars in loans advanced to the company by the government despite the fact $2.8 million in repairs was needed, but never secured. Without this capital financing, the plant was doomed from the beginning, Younker’s report states. “The requirement for the (owners) to have capital financing in place prior to the close was waived by executive council on assurances the (owners) would seek external financing. The effect was that the company was under-capitalized,” the audit report says. Premier Robert Ghiz requested the audit after his government called the plant into receivership last December. At that time, the owners of the plant had asked the province for $2 million to aid in plant operating costs, but this was on top of millions already given to the plant since 2006 by the current and previous governments. Instead of granting the funding request, Ghiz called in a loan of $2.1 million, forcing the company into receivership.

Investment Advice...."good luck with that"...

For some strange reason people come up to me a lot and ask me for some stock market advice and it happened again twice today at the farmers market.... I guess they think because I've made some "dough" in the development business that I automatically should know something about the market and what it's going to do.... well I guess if you threw a cat off a 20 storey building it may land on its feet and bounce back towards the top but your guess is as good as mine whether or not the cat is going to survive.... sort of like some of my stock.... but you won't need my investment advice if you take a good look at this YouTube clip.. it is probably the most reliable insight I've ever seen into how exactly the market really works.... please enjoy Hughie!!!

Top 10 uses.... another "golf links" failure......

10. A Golf Cart Driver Training Centre for "Snack Cart Girls"....
9. Demo site for trying out your new lawn mower...
8. A National Lawn Bowling site....
7. A Pet Conversion Centre for the hog industry...
6. Paint Ball Park....
5. Meditation Centre for City Councillors...
4. Nine Screen Drive In Theatre Complex...
3. Spring Training Camp for the Leafs...
2. Business Training Centre for Golf Links staff...
and finally the number one use...
A perfect project for your PhD dissertation on the taxpayers tab...

Callaway shuts down golf centre
By David MacDonald
Callaway Golf Canada will no longer operate its golf performance centre at the Brudenell resort, with the company blaming a low turnout for the closure. The performance centre, which was in operation since 2007, was part of an overall agreement Callaway had with Golf Links PEI. Callaway leased the property from the provincial government, and the company has branding rights to the Callaway Golf Divine Nine course in Brudenell, which is operated by the province. The performance centre included club fitting and technical support for golfers provided by a golfing professional. The province spent between $35,000 and $38,000 to renovate the building, which was the former Canadian Golf Academy, in 2006 in preparation for the performance centre’s arrival but spent no other money on it since, said Golf Links PEI general manager Greg Dukart. Chris Walling, director of marketing for Callaway, said the number of customers coming to the performance centre didn't justify keeping the facility open. “It didn’t meet the minimum threshold to cover all of the cost of the physical running of the centre.” Mr Walling would not divulge those numbers but speculated the economy played a role. “In talking to a number of resort properties across the country, not just PEI, they see tourism numbers are down. The reasons for that are the state of the Canadian dollar, and the state of the economy in the US.” Mr Walling emphasized the agreement between Callaway and Golf Links PEI is still in place. He said discussions are being held with Golf Links PEI about using the performance centre site for a different venture, such as a teaching and fitting academy or a junior clinic for younger golfers. But he said it is still very early in the planning process. Mr Dukart said the numbers are Callaway's business, not government's. He said there haven't been any discussions at a government level about what to do with the site.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Like the Leafs...he's back...

Yes I'm back and hopefully not on a losing streak like the Leafs.... Gee.... I have been away from my Blog for almost a week in Toronto and Montreal looking at strip malls (not strip clubs) amongst some other business. I guess I didn't really have a good sense on how many people really read my blog, but while I was gone I was pleasantly surprised at the emails and calls I got looking for “something” or wondering if I gave up? "HELL NO" .... Did they give away the golf courses... NO.... Did they toss those guys out at IRAC... NO .... Was the Mayor impeached....NO... Did the Leafs win the Cup... NEVER... so I don't suppose I'll give up either, so when I get a few minutes this weekend I'll "DIG" into what going on our beautiful Island.... or you can always email me with your comments or ideas for my blog.... it's always great to be home...